European Space Agency Test Rovers with Vicon precision

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Planetary Surface Operations Aided by Motion Capture. Vicon, the leading provider of precision motion capture systems for the engineering, life science and entertainment market, has today announced its role in the important research being conducted by the European Space Agency’s Automation & Robotics Laboratory (ESA ARL).

ESA - Automation and Robotics Laboratory

I am extremely proud Vicon is part of such important research. ESA is an exciting organisation and the results it is producing for the engineering and technological development of the rover will be key in the future of unmanned planetary exploration.

Vicon, the leading provider of precision motion capture systems for the engineering, life science and entertainment market, has today announced its role in the important research being conducted by the European Space Agency’s Automation & Robotics Laboratory (ESA ARL).

The ESA ARL is working with an eight camera Vicon motion capture system to track the motion of robotic vehicles aimed for planetary surface exploration, such as Mars and Moon rovers.

The Vicon-based system is installed in an 80m2 planetary terrain simulation ground called the Planetary Utilisation Testbed (PUTB), which mimics some tricky planetary surfaces such as boulder fields, sandy dunes and gravel patches.

Pantelis Poulakis, a robotics systems engineer at the ESA ARL said: “The rovers are either tele-operated or they execute autonomous navigation algorithms onboard. The latter is necessary for a Mars mission scenario due to the long time it takes for signals to travel between Earth and Mars and the limited availability of communication windows. In order to “know” its position on the surface of the planet and to close the loop with the navigation algorithms, the rovers are equipped with a set of sensors called a ‘localisation’ scheme.”

Poulakis continued: “It’s a continuous learning curve for us. The Vicon system tracks the rover navigation trajectories, thus providing an external localisation reference. We then analyse that data, in order to validate the navigation algorithms and test our onboard localisation scheme. In a nutshell, our aim is to narrow the difference between how we expect the rover to move and what it actually does.”

Douglas Reinke, chief executive officer at Vicon, said: “I am extremely proud Vicon is part of such important research. ESA is an exciting organisation and the results it is producing for the engineering and technological development of the rover will be key in the future of unmanned planetary exploration.”

The European Space Agency was established in 1975 and it is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the space research, technology and exploration. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of close to 2,000 with an annual budget of approximately €3.6 billion.

About Vicon
Academy Award®-winning Vicon is the world’s largest supplier of precision motion tracking systems, serving customers and CG animation applications in film, visual effects, computer games, and broadcast television, as well as engineering and life science industries. VICON operates in four offices worldwide, including its Los Angeles-based Entertainment headquarters, a 26,000 square-foot facility equipped with three performance capture stages for VICON’s service company House of Moves as well as 125 VICON MX40 cameras.

Vicon is the largest holding of Oxford Metrics Group (LSE: OMG), plc., a group of technology companies that produces image understanding solutions for the entertainment, defence, life science and engineering markets. Other holdings include Emmy Award®-winning 2d3 and newly founded Yotta DCL.

Oxford Metrics’ global clients include: life science leaders University of Pennsylvania, the VA Hospitals, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Titleist Golf, National Pitching Association; engineering industry leaders Ford, BMW, Airbus, Lockheed, Pratt-Whitney, NASA, Caterpillar, International Truck, and Toyota; and entertainment companies Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Computer Entertainment, Industrial Light and Magic, Sega, Nintendo, UbiSoft, Vivendi, Electronic Arts, Square Enix and many others.

For more information about OMG and its subsidiaries, visit http://www.omg3d.com, http://www.yotta.tv, http://www.vicon.com, or http://www.2d3.com.

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Hayley Roberts
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